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Subject: Correction to Henning Review
The Columbia Revolt film was not made by students, as Ms. Henning states in her otherwise good 9/20/03 review. It was made by Newsreel, the radical filmmaking organization.
Subject: valuable documentary
I saw this film during freshman orientation at Columbia in 1983. It recounts the events of May 1968, during the week before final exams. The film is part of the aura that clings to this time period for more than a few Columbia students (at least up until the 1980s). The riots actually led to quite a bit of change: the gymnasium was never built (it was later built on campus, which meant that there was none of the community access the city had originally required of the controversial gym), the president of the university was replaced a year later (by Columbia's first Jewish one), and after several more years of springtime demonstrations the week-long study period between classes and exams was eventually reduced to a day. Even still, in 1984 the students blockaded for several weeks Hamilton Hall (the building which was taken over by the black students in 1968) to demand the university disinvest from companies operating in South Africa. It worked.
Sadly, this dupe has muddied contrast and the sound quality has deteriorated.
Subject: Race Issues
The film is great and I echo most of what has been written in other reviews. The film, however, completely skips over what happens to the great group of black students who were also party of the revolt at Columbia. Of course, it shouldn't come as a surprise since the movie was made up of materials from the white radical leftist student movement - the same movement still plagued by the racism obviously playing into these events.
Christine Hennig -
Subject: Columbia Revolt (Full Film)
This arresting film is a true "outsider film". It was made by students at Columbia University, documenting the violent 1968 demonstrations there from the student radicals' point of view. The film is all grainy black-and-white cinema verite style, with soundtracks consisting mostly of various students spontaneously telling their stories about what they experienced during the protests and what it was all about. Mainly, it was about three things: 1. opposition to the college's close relationship with the Defense Department, resulting in extensive research into war and killing technologies, especially those that were being used in the Vietnam war; 2. opposition to the building of a new gymnasium, which was being planned to occupy a site in the mostly black Morningside Heights neighborhood, taking over a public park and displacing many black families from their homes; and 3. giving students a greater voice in the decisions of the college administration. We see students forcibly taking over and occupying the library; battling with "jocks" (right wing students who opposed them); developing a communal society during the occupation which culminates in a hippie wedding; holding endless meetings and voting and revoting on the demands they are making; being viciously beaten by police officers as they are forced out of the building (these scenes are graphic and quite upsetting); performing bizarre political guerilla theater events on campus; picketing and striking; holding their own "liberation classes"; and protesting commencement by walking out and holding an alternative ceremony of their own. Unfortunately, the film ends unresolvedyou don't really find out how successful or unsuccessful they were in bringing about change (this, of course, reveals my ignorance of those events). Still, the film is a visually arresting document of 60s radicalism, political struggle, and the issues that divided the American people, sometimes violently, during that time. And it's a great example of grass-roots filmmaking as well. One of the most historically interesting films in the Prelinger Archive collection.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.
Subject: Revenge Of The Nerds!
Columbia Revolt tells of the students of Columbia University standing up for what they percieved as right. In this case, the building of a new gymansium (!) and various other illwill. Shot verite style, the camera work is very amateurish, and all taken from the students' POV. There is no narration in the film, rather the students, whether it's taken from the odd speech, or spoken into the camera itself, dictate where the students are headed. Obviously one sided, but still quite fascinating (and too long). This is a fascinating snapshot of 1969 and is a great companion to 'Brink Of Disaster'